In October 2009, Nick Barley’s appointment as Edinburgh International Book Festival director raised a few eyebrows among the Scottish literati, many of whom had never heard of him.
Three years on, the doubters have been all but silenced. The book festival programme Barley unveiled yesterday is not only one of the biggest ever to take place at Charlotte Square but establishes Edinburgh’s place on the world’s cultural map more firmly than ever before.
The £565,000 project means that discussions on key literary themes that begin in Charlotte Square will then be mirrored at similar events in 14 book festivals throughout the world.
This is easily the biggest initiative the book festival has ever launched – indeed as the Edinburgh World Writers’ conference rolls round the world it almost certainly ranks as the world’s biggest-ever literary discussion.
But the genius of the initiative is that it is rooted in Edinburgh’s own history, taking its discussion themes straight from the 1962 Writers Conference.
Fifty years go, those delegates who attended that conference almost certainly didn’t realise that they were laying the seeds for the world’s biggest book festival. If the cultural legacy of the World Writers’ Conference this August, is anything like as significant, it will be a major boost not just for the city, but for its book festival – and its director – too.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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